/Wisconsin health-care worker ‘intentionally’ ruined more than 500 coronavirus vaccine doses, hospital says – The Washington Post

Wisconsin health-care worker ‘intentionally’ ruined more than 500 coronavirus vaccine doses, hospital says – The Washington Post

The hospital has fired the employee, who has not yet been identified, and local and federal authorities are now investigating, the Grafton Police Department confirmed to The Washington Post early on Thursday.

The employee’s tampering will delay the inoculation process for hundreds of people, the hospital said, in a state where 3,170 new cases were reported and 40 people died Wednesday of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to The Post’s coronavirus tracker.

“We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving the vaccine,” the hospital said in a statement.

After making a vaccine for the coronavirus, you have to get it to the masses. But that’s not so easy for a so-called cold chain vaccine, requiring exact temps. (The Washington Post)

The Wisconsin incident comes as states continue to grapple with a bumpy rollout of the first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which were approved less than a month ago and prioritized for health-care workers and nursing home residents. So far, distribution has lagged well behind federal projections, raising concerns about whether the outgoing administration will meet its already revised goal of 20 million vaccines distributed by the end of the year.

As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 12.4 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed across the United States, The Post reported, but only 2.6 million of those had been administered. (This means that 1 in 125 Americans have received the first dose of the vaccine.) Trump administration officials have disputed these numbers.

The hospital in Grafton, a city of nearly 12,000 just north of Milwaukee, received hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine in mid-December.

The hospital said 57 vials of the vaccine, which must be kept at low temperatures to remain viable, had to be tossed Saturday when they were discovered outside the refrigerator. The hospital opened an internal investigation, and on Monday, said it had found that a worker “inadvertently removed” the vials on Friday while reaching for other items in the refrigerator, and then failed to put them back in an “unintended human error.”

The hospital apologized, saying, “We are clearly disappointed and regret this happened.”

But on Wednesday, the hospital said the employee had changed their story and “acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.” After terminating the employee, the hospital said it notified police.

Grafton police said that the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration have now joined an investigation into the incident.

It’s not yet clear what motive the employee may have had to destroy the vaccines. A spokesperson with the hospital said it would release more details about its investigation on Thursday.

Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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